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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020
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David Trimble just aimed a sly dig at the Taoiseach

The former leader of the UUP has strong opinions on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

David Trimble served as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.
David Trimble served as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

DAVID TRIMBLE, THE former First Minister of Northern Ireland, has criticised Leo Varadkar’s tenure of as Taoiseach, claiming his takeover from Enda Kenny has not been a positive change for the country.

Trimble, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, was disparaging about Varadkar’s time in the role when speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Today with Sean O’Rourke:

I don’t think it’s been a change for the better.

When pressed to characterise the period, he was hesitant to elaborate:

“I think I’ve said enough,” he told the presenter.

Trimble also dismissed any idea that Northern Ireland would be separated from the United Kingdom as part of the fallout from Brexit.

O’Rourke put it to Trimble that he is quoted as saying that paramilitaries could become active again because of the silly things the Irish government are saying. What are those silly things, the presenter asked.

Trimble responded:

The thought that they can separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, that is what some people are talking about. By saying that somehow, we’re going to keep Northern Ireland within Europe, while the rest of the United Kingdom goes off.
Now that is really daft, it factually ignores the basic principles laid down in the agreement.

Trimble, who now sits in the House of Lords, was speaking to O’Rourke in light of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which is being marked today.

The 1998 agreement set the blueprint for peace in Northern Ireland and included plans for the power-sharing northern assembly.

Britain’s exit from the UK, however, has seen some question the future of the agreement.

Trimble said last weekend that Dublin’s anti-hard-border stance endangers the future of the agreement and could provoke loyalists. Speaking to The Guardian, Trimble accused the Irish government of “saying silly things”.

If it looks as though the constitutional arrangements of the agreement, based on the principle of consent, are going to be superseded by so-called ‘special EU status’ then that is going to weaken the union and undermine the very agreement that Dublin says it wants to uphold.

Elsewhere, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that the Irish government would have to “play hardball” with Britain over Brexit.

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Ahern, another of the key figures behind the deal, told BBC2′s Newsnight that ordinary people would pull down any physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

There never will be a border. There is not going to be a physical border across Ireland because if you tried to put it there you wouldn’t have to wait for terrorism to take it down, people would just physically pull it down – the ordinary people.

Dublin: Bill Clinton marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement Former US president Bill Clinton marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in UCD. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Former US President Bill Clinton will receive the Freedom of the City of Belfast at an event today, having played an instrumental role in negotiations during the 1990s. Former senator George Mitchell, the US envoy who chaired the talks, will also be given the honour.

Last night, Clinton spoke about how the agreement, which he described as a “beacon of hope”, required “sacrifice and compromise”.

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